By Monika Prell in Zalla
Astana's Alberto Contador proved himself to be untouchable in the Tour of the Basque country, putting in a dominant final time trial to seal his overall victory as well as the stage win. The three-time Grand Tour champion clocked in a 31:59 for the 24km distance, and only Antonio Colom (Katusha) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) could come within a minute of that mark. The three fastest also made up the race's final podium.
Contador, who already took home the overall title at the Vuelta ao Algarve in March, set the fastest times at the first check after five kilometres and held his lead until the end. Colom and Liquigas' Vincenzo Nibali were the next fastest at the early check, but the Italian would fade over the second half.
"It's incredible how I continue to progress in my time trial work," said Contador. "Two, three years ago this would have been impossible. I am a typical climber; in theory we are not so strong in time trial work. This gives me confidence for the next goal, the Tour de France. Maybe from now on I must concentrate on longer time trials as well."
The Astana team had its share of mishaps during the tour. It lost a valuable domestique when Chris Horner crashed out of the race, and Daniel Navarro, who went down in the same wreck, suffered trying to work for Contador on the final mass start day.
"This time I had many doubts if I would be able to win the Vuelta al País Vasco," said Contador. "I felt good but we had some difficult stages to ride, and in the end all riders are equal and everybody can have bad days." He dedicated the victory to his team, saying he was happy he could repay their hard work with a victory.
See the full results, report and photos.